We pick up the 20 for 20 series by breaking down the 20 best plays of the Kirk Ferentz era. When we talk about best plays we’re not so much talking about the ingenuity of the play call but more so the importance of the play. Many of these plays were game winners. Others gave Iowa an advantage that may have ended up saving them from certain defeat. And then there are those plays that were just…wild. We now present to you the 20 Best Plays of the Kirk Ferentz Era, Part One.
NOTE: The final five plays of this series will be ranked, but the others are not ranked. They're all great plays.
2015 Big Ten Championship Game: C.J Beathard to Tevaun Smith
We’ll rip this band-aid off right away. Like most match-ups with Michigan State, the Big Ten Championship Game was a back alley street fight (ED NOTE: Mark Dantonio does not hand out suspensions for his players being involved in back-alley street fights). The fact that the score at halftime was 6-3 in favor of the Hawkeyes should illustrate what type of game it was. By the end of the third quarter, with Michigan State leading 9-6, it was wholly reasonable to think that this game could very well be decided without a touchdown being scored and that whoever had the ball last could win.
With Iowa, there was a sense of despair, as they’d put together solid offensive drives only to see them turn the ball over in the red zone (or end zone). At the start of the fourth quarter, Iowa faced a 2nd and 20 thanks to a holding call right out of the gate. After another first down play that resulted in no gain, Iowa lined up in the single back, Beathard play-actioned to Akrum Wadley and Gus Johnson took it from there:
Lucas Oil Stadium exploded. Gus Johnson exploded. There was a feeling of elation that Iowa fans hadn’t experienced in nearly 10 years as they faced the very real possibility of winning the Big Ten. Of course, in the end, L.J. Scott ripped our hearts out and Michigan State walked away the winner. But during that beautiful moment, everything aligned and it looked like Iowa would finally walk away with their third Big Ten Championship under Kirk Ferentz.
2002 Penn State: Brad Banks to Ed Hinkel
Iowa finished their non-conference schedule 3-1 (THANKS SENECA) and opened up the Big Ten slate with a tough test against the #12 Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. Penn State was the obvious favorite but in the blink of an eye, Iowa was up 17-0 at the end of the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Iowa faced a 3rd and 9 from the Penn State 22-yard line. Take it away, Ed Hinkel (play begins at 3:45):
Hinkel’s catch was spectacular (as they usually were) and gave the Hawkeyes a 23-0 lead after a blocked PAT. Of course, if you remember that game, you’ll remember that Iowa was outscored 22-0 in the fourth quarter, forcing overtime. The Hawkeyes needed a Brad Banks-to-C.J. Jones touchdown and defensive stop to give the good guys a 42-35 victory.
2008 Purdue: Shonn Greene vs. Frank Duong
Fun fact: Purdue safety Frank Duong received the team’s “Hammer Award” in the spring, an award given to the team’s most outstanding hitter. With that in mind, he apparently thought that he could stop Shonn Greene, who was the nation’s most outstanding rusher. The result:
Duong had better days than November 22nd, 2008. In the end, Greene rushed for 211 yards and two touchdowns as Iowa beat the Boilermakers 22-17.
2013 Iowa State: B.J. Lowery’s One-Handed Interception
The final score of the 2013 Cy-Hawk indicated the game was a lot closer than it really was, as Iowa led 27-7 midway through the fourth quarter. But, as Iowa’s special teams were “lacking” and the defense went into full prevent mode, they allowed Iowa State to rattle off a quick touchdown. The Cyclones got the ball back once again, down 14-27, when B.J. Lowery decided he needed to put a kink in this whole comeback nonsense (forgive me for the awful kirkferentzrocks video):
The interception allowed Iowa to do the patented Kirk Ferentz bleed out the clock thing, leaving the Cyclones with only 7 seconds left on the clock to try to pull off a miracle. They didn’t, and Iowa walked away from Ames with a 27-21 victory.
2002 Purdue: Brad Banks to Dallas Clark Pt. 2
There were two amazing Brad Banks to Dallas Clark plays in this game. The first was a 95-yard touchdown pass. That was awesome enough. But, as it turned out, the second touchdown was more important. Kyle Orton’s Purdue Boilermakers led 28-24 with 2:16 remaining in the game. Brad Banks and the Hawkeyes needed to drive 87 yards to pull off the victory. Brad Banks drove the Hawkeyes 87 yards and finished the drive with this wonderful rollout and opposite field pass to Clark on 4th and goal:
For how amazing that play was, it’s easy to forget that Purdue actually drove to Iowa’s 25-yard line on their next (and final) possession of the game and the Hawkeyes needed an Adolphus Shelton interception to secure the victory.
NEXT: Shonn Greene shines, some unexpected CyHawk brilliance, and more.